Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What a crazy painting project

These are the final images done for the new Lebaon Library, my friend Aarron Woods made a great little video about the process.

Join Artist Michael Orwick and go behind the scenes as he creates 3 large scale painting for his home town library.

Three 48x72 inch landscape paintings on canvas.

Short bio and history of the thoughts behind the creation of the images that grace the intrance to the new Lebanon Oregon Library.

Lebanon Library Art Project

Proposal ideas and size____________________________________________________

- 3 paintings, with 1.5 foot of wall space surrounding each one, for the large panel in the entry of the library


I want to create paintings that reflect the beauty and strong ties I feel to the area, where I and seven generations of family before me grew up.

“Oh, beauty, ever ancient and ever new.” (Saint Augustine)

While I have been contemplating this amazing project and opportunity, I have been thinking both about how far I have come artistically, and about how much has truly changed in the town “that friendliness built.”

I have spent a time reflecting on change and growth, and despite all that obvious transformation, it is in fact what has remained constant that I continue to gravitate toward most: the sunsets my Great Grandfather Fred appreciated as he sat on the back porch after a grueling day on the farm (that is now the Lowe’s property); the refreshing cool my Grandmother Rusty, as a little girl, enjoyed as she splashed in the river; and the trails my Mother Laurie tromped through as she gathered up bouquets of purple Foxglove and the yellow blossoms of the Oregon grape. Change is important and constant, but it is what stays the same, those things that were beautiful then… and still retain the same appeal and potential to excite us today, which delights most.

What I propose is a series of paintings that are a reflection on atmosphere and light: the early morning moisture in the air, the thin veil of clouds resting atop Peterson’s Butte, the dust kicked up during hay season that turns the setting sun ablaze in warm hues and glowing contrasts…

The artwork would reflect the feeling I had as a child, blissfully floating down the Santiam River by inner tube, or fishing off its banks, with the warm summer light reflecting off the subtle rapids and the water-worn stones just beneath its surface.

I want my paintings to capture the magic and wander I felt as I discovered the forested trails in the hills surrounding town, and as I breathed the damp air with its very cognitive feeling of being enveloped in lush green life, and the sweet musk of decomposition as old stumps give rise to saplings and innumerable ferns. I want to capture the filtered dappled light making its way to the path just before leading me in, bidding me to explore the next bend just over the moss covered log.

The Library Art Project paintings have the potential to be the best I have ever created. I plan for them to read like four chapters that tell the story of the town that shaped me and ignited my lifelong appreciation for both natural and agricultural beauty, for winding water ways, softly rolling fields, and gray blue hills fading into the distance, which frames it all.

“We look at the picture. We walk in the picture. We ramble through the picture. We live in the picture. All are desirable, but the last two are held in the greatest respect.” (Kuo His)

Artwork, style, emotional impact____________________________________________

I have always felt that a painting’s job was to feel like a painting, to do the things that only paintings can... Paintings work best when not strictly adhering to the scene at hand, but when they capture the essence of the place and subject.

My tools are the canvas and oil paint, and using these two simple materials I strive to create the illusion of a third dimension. It has always been my goal to help the illusionary dimension feel real and beckon people to travel into it, to draw them as a place that is welcoming, that has certain nostalgia-like sense of a place they know well but are now seeing anew.

“Response [of viewers] is triggered by the design, drawing, form, color, etc. presented by the artist, but also draws on their own experiences and imagination.” (Ken Campbell)

My style has developed as a unique hybrid of elements from the artists and paintings I love. When people talk about my art they use word like “impressionistic” or “painterly,” which comes from my years studying the French impressionists and my deep fondness for the early California Impressionist painters. I love artwork that feels spontaneous yet controlled, like a thoughtful acknowledgement to what is being seen and felt.

People also use words like “relaxing,” “nostalgic,” and “timeless” to describe my pieces. This may indeed reflect my focus to overcome a deep seated fear of having my art feel dated or trendy. Years ago I began to ask myself what was the art that drew me in, which styles did I connect with most, and I noticed it wasn’t about an era or a movement... The art I like is about light and shadow, about atmosphere, and about conveying the special feeling of being in a certain place at a given time of day.

My art has been described as “story-like” or “illustrative,” and that one is easy to answer, I studied illustration and many of my favorite artists are the classic illustrators - artists such as Maxfield Parish and N.C. Wyeth, painters who created stunning images that get people excited about the story’s potential.

Reference photos_________________________________________________________

I have been fortunate to meet the local photographer Nick Boren. He has photographed the Lebanon area extensively for many years, and upon learning about my opportunity, has opened up his vast collection for me to work with. I have included 7 of his photographs and 5 of my own for you to get a better idea of subject matter images we could choose from. (I have numbered the backs in priority order to indicate which ones I prefer, but I would absolutely be happy to work with any of them as references.)


My paintings for the Lebanon Library project are going to be my thoughtful reaction to what I have been so lucky to have experienced first hand, while growing up surrounded by all of Lebanon’s potential and beauty.

“The vision of the artist is the vision to see and the ability to tell the world something that he or she unconsciously thinks about nature.” (Hawthorne)

Michael Orwick

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